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Dodge Dakota: Problems & Solutions



  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,080
    For those of you that may have forgotten.... There seems to be a preponderance of PowerSteering pump failures on the 4.7L V8 after about 50K miles. I am trying to avert this expensive failure on my 2000 Dak. My original PSF was VERY BLACK and had a strong 'burnt' odor to it.

    Yesterday, I drained and replaced my PSF.... twice. Although the new fluid I put in was water-clear... it is allready BLACK again. There must have been a lot of black gunk hanging around in the system.

    I have decided to suck-out and replace the PSF every couple days until it clears up (that is the plan anyway.)

    I am using the Prestone brand PSF available at wallmart for about $4 for a quart. Even if it takes $12 of fluid before it starts to clear up... that is MUCH cheaper than a powerSteering pump.

    Does anyone else have black, smelly powersteering fluid? (It should be clear and nearly ororless)
    How many miles do you have on your Dak?
  • bpeebles - I have been away a few days so I did not have the chance to respond on the battery. The 2000 Dodge Dakota brochure I have shows a "Heavy Duty Service Group" then lists a "136 Amp alternator, 750 Amp Battery and maximum engine cooling". The order I placed as well as the window sticker also shows this. I believe I remember reading that at some point in the model year all the 4.7 engines were swithched to the 136 Amp alternator. Since I wanted the LSD I had to take the 3.92 (at least this was in effect at the time I placed the order).

  • I replaced my battery last week with an Energizer (guaranteed 7years, 875 cold cranking amps). The terminal posts did not line up with the battery cover which was with the original battery so I installed the new battery without the cover. My understanding was that this cover was for heat protection anybody know how critical this is. Also I did not use the battery platform that came with the new battery because I remember reading something about the sensor which is under the battery. Is that sensor for excessive heat buildup?
  • ferousferous Posts: 226
    My 2000 4.7 QC doesn't have a cover for the battery.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,080
    (ronslakie)According to the DC service manual, that sensor under the battery is used for multiple things.

    *)It is used to determine outside temp when starting a cold engine.

    *)It is used to 'adopt' the charging rate based on battery temp.

    *)It is used as input to modify the calculation of several other variables such as ignition timing, injection timing, intake air density. (There are sensors in the intake airflow too.)
  • jimtjimt Posts: 56
    I changed fluid also about 2 weeks ago. I have 72,000 miles on my 01 with 4.7. I was very surprised how dark/burnt it appeared. I was getting a little growl from pump as well. I tried getting as much old fluid out by disconnecting both lines from rack and turning wheels lock to lock by hand(front of veh. on jack stands). I also started and stopped engine a couple of cycles to empty pump. Poured new fluid thru and let it drain. Still fluid is not completely clean. I also added a ps additive which napa carried. I used their fluid. Anybody have system power flushed? I know Ford dealer offers such a service. Would synthetic be a good replacement? It is more quiet now, but the rear end still whines! Jim T.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    The covers on automotive batteries are more for isolating against wind chill.

    I think the 136 amp alternator is a standard item anytime air conditioning is on the vehicle. However, when I looked at the 2002 RAM sales brochure, it definitly implies that the 136 amp alternator is standard equipment on the 4.7

    I do know that the dealers computer parts screen listed a 117 amp for the 2003 Dakota with a 4.7 engine. This could be for stripped down fleet versions of the Dakota, although I don't remember seeing a footnote.

  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,080
    (jimt) You may have saved yourself over $800 by changing your PS fluid.

    QUESTION: I see you are in Florida, I assume it gets pretty hot there... do you have the PS cooler on your Dak? (It looks like a little radiator on the return hose.)

    I am suspecting that there may be a good argument twards adding a cooler to the return hose if the factory one is not already fitted. (Cost less than $100 for a cooler, hose, and some clamps.)

    I am in Vermont where it does not get much over 90 more than 20 days a year.... but in the winter when it is -30F.... it is VERY HARD to turn the steering wheel for the first 5-10 minutes.

    I have to make a FULL RIGHT TURN as I pull out of my driveway. The first winter I had my Dak, I almost ran straight out of my driveway into the snowbank across the road. I have since learned to wiggle the steering wheel about a 1/4 turn right/left about 10 times before driving. This warms the fluid enough to make it steer when I 'muscle' it.

    Perhaps the "synthetic" fluid you mention would help this situation... but since I would have to use so much of it to 'purge' the system... it may be cost-prohibitive.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    .....refresh my memory. What year is your Dakota? How many miles?

    Yeah, mine is stiffer in the cold weather, but not like yours. My Nissan, our Chevy and our Toyota all exhibit a bit firmness to a varying degree during cold weather. Out Chevy groaned a lot.

    But so far the Dakota seems what I would call "normal" in this respect.

    How many power steering pump failures are you aware of. My service manager didn't indicate this has been a problem on past Dakota's (but, I've been lied to before!).

    Best regards,
  • mopar67mopar67 Posts: 728
    I thought there was the TB air intake sensor on the plastic intake manifold itself and that was it?
    I didn't recall seeing a MAF sensor or a MAP sensor.....but my memory might be fading a bit here.

    I believe that with DOdge not having those add'l pieces, they have a bit better system (less stuff there means less stuff to break)
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    Thanks for the info on the PSF. I will change mine with Redline C+ synthetic ATF when I get around to changing the transfer case in the next month.

    By the way, the original PSF in the 4.7 is either ATF+3 or ATF+4 tranny fluid. It should be red or reddish brown under normal conditions.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,080
    (dustyk) My Dak is a (very) early 2000 (before the quadcab was available) It has 50K miles.

    I have read about at least 4 folks that had a PS pump failure on a 4.7L V8. Do not forget that the PS pump on the 4.7L V8 is NOT THE SAME as the one on the other engines. It is apparently a brand new design. (first afailable in 1999 on the Jeep Grand Cherokee)

    (sunburn) ATF+3 or ATF+4 tranny fluid in the PS system???? Where did you get this info from. I have the factory shop manual and that is NOT what it says. From my research, any kind of ATF is not desirable for a powerSteering system. I am willing to learn more... please tell us where you get your facts from...

    Well... I am going out right now to change my PS fluid for the 3rd time this week.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    >>By the way, the original PSF in the 4.7 is either ATF+3 or ATF+4 tranny fluid. It should be red or reddish brown under normal conditions.<<

    Sunburn is correct. Begining in late 2002 Dakotas started to get the ATF+4 as power steering fluid.

    There is a cautionary note in the service manual about judging this fluid. All ATF fluids use a dye, but years ago it was permanent. ATF+4 appearently is not.

    The manual also states that "ATF+4 also has a unique odor that may change with age. Consequently, odor and color cannot be used to indicate the fluid condition or the need for a fluid change."

    I'm a little concerned when I read that someone had a symptom with the power steering system that was remedied by a fluid flush or change. Years ago the only time you needed to grab a can of power steering fluid is to add some, not change it.

    I examined mine and -- assuming it's ATF+4 -- it is already much darker than the same stuff in the transmission at 13,000 miles. There's an odor, but I can't say it smells like it's burnt at all. So I don't know. I'm not experiencing any unusual noises or steering related symptoms. But I will ask my Dodge guy about this one.

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    On page 0-6 of the Lubrication & Maintenance section, 2003 Dakota Service Manual, it does specifically state that ATF+4 is to be used in the power steering system. It does not differentiate engines, although the 3.9 and 5.9 get the Saginaw pump. I don't know who the manufacturer is of the pump that's used on the 4.7.

    Best regards,
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,080
    Thanks for the info... my 2000 shop manual was printed before ATF+4 was available. It specifically warns against using ATF in the PS system (I assume that was refering to ATF+3)

     I do know that ATF+4 is SYNTHETIC-based and may have qualities that are acceptable for a PS system. (Like heat resistance.)

    BTW... you mention that color and odor may not be good gauges for when the PS fluid needs to be changed... I agree, but also would err twards changing it SOONER rather than later.

     There is NO QUESTION that my PS fluid was burnt... the odor was VERY STRONG (Like wet ashes) and it was black as coal. (Even holding up to sun in a glass bottle showed it was not even opaque)

    It is curious that some folks will change their oil every 3000 miles (WAYYY TO OFTEN!) yet will ignore all of the other fluids that keep their vehicles running maintenance-free.

    I just changed my PSF 2 more times. (running engine and turning wheels lock-to-lock) between changes). Both times, it came out pretty dark... at least now it is starting to look opaque. I will do some more changes later in the week. (I have not even used $6 worth of fluid yet.)

    I have been looking for finned coolers to put on the return hose. (Just like the factory setup) I have found one at "Advance Auto" for $29 that is twice as large as the factory unit. Still contiplating wether to buy it or change the fluid more often...
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Well, I've got to tell you that I've never before run into a situation where power steering fluid condition was the cause of a problem. Most vehicles that I've owned required a special power steering fluid, although I have seen ATF used in the past on some models.

    But even then I've not run across this situation where the fluid becomes degraded in some way.

    After my last post I did check the odor of my power steering fluid and compared it to the transmission dipstick and they have an identical my nose at least. But the power steering fluid is most certainly much darker than the transmission, so I think something's going on. I just don't have a clue at the moment why.

    If I find out anything I'll post it here.

  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    I was just looking at my owner's manual last night and noticed a comment on the coolant type for the 4.7. It stated that any replacement antifreeze must be a HOAT type (I forget what the acronym stands for). Mixing non-HOAT types could cause problems. Of course, they refer you to the Mopar Antifreeze as a replacement. I've heard of people having problems when replacing extended life anitfreeze (Dexcool, etc.) - like jelling, etc. I know that most of you probably haven't reached the coolant replacement point yet, but does anyone know anymore about this?
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,080
    (sunburn) You read my mind.... I am going to change my coolant next.

    OAT= Organic Acid Technology
    HOAT= Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (has a traditional Ethylene Glycol-base, with a single OAT inhibitor and is moderately silicated)

    You heard correct... mixing OAT with the 'standard' Ethylene Glycol antifreeze may jell, turn brown in color and plug up the cooling system. (Can you say ENGINE MELTDOWN?)

    As for what to use in the 4.7L V8... it depends on the year of your vehicle. I beleive that the early 2000 Dak has "standard" Ethylene glycol.

    As long as one is flushing the entire system (including heater core) it should not matter which quality coolant one chooses to use.
  • mopar67mopar67 Posts: 728
    cars specified Dexron for transmission fluid. My 2000 CC specified regular power steering fluid only. Not tranny fluid. Has this changed with the later models?
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Well, the 2003 Dakota service manual specifically states to use ATF+4 in the power steering system, and it doesn't differentiate between engines even though the 3.9 and 5.9 get the Saginaw pump. The 4.7 uses an entirely different designed pump.

    I did talk to the Dodge dealer's service manager today, and he said they have never replaced a power steering pump for a 4.7. In fact, he said the only problems they've had were on Caravans, when during a period they had pump pulleys come loose.

    I asked him about the dark color of the ATF in my Dakota, and said he wasn't aware of any problems. But I'll be keeping an eye on it just the same.

This discussion has been closed.